Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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History/Social Studies

Bringing It All Together

Aligning Essential Questions and Sources

When designing an investigation, one of the most important considerations a teacher needs to make is the alignment among all the materials that students will use. Of primary concern is the alignment between the essential question being asked and the sources that students will use as evidence for making claims in response to the essential question.

As mentioned in Unit 5, Section 5, here are some criteria for deciding what makes for good essential questions. The best questions to guide inquiry:

  • Are complex and debatable
  • Require students to analyze texts
  • Necessitate that students move beyond summary
  • Are not answerable by a simple yes or no
  • Can have a range of answers and multiple interpretations

Another important issue is whether multiple perspectives are conveyed in a document set or whether the set is skewed toward one perspective. As a way of monitoring issues of alignment and equitable perspectives, the following questions can be asked:

  • Why did I select this document?
  • What do I expect students will get from this document?
  • How does the document relate to the essential question I posed?
  • What will be difficult for students in this document?
  • What have I done to help students access the document (e.g., adaptations of documents, scaffolding, etc.)?